Worker celebrates 50 years at Norwich toy shop
PUBLISHED: 13:48 13 July 2020 | UPDATED: 13:48 13 July 2020
A Norwich woman has celebrated half a century working for the same Norwich toy shop - although she was never officially given the job.
Linda Ashwood, from Brundall, got a store assistant job at Langleys Toy Shop in the Royal Arcade in 1970, when she was aged 15, and has been there ever since.
But after her first shift, which was the only time she had ever been to the city alone, she said she was never told by shop managers she had the job and joked she “just kept showing up and hoped they did not notice”.
Now Ms Ashwood, who has since had her job confirmed, said she planned to keep on working for the next 20 years.
Over the course of her career, which covers 10 British prime ministers, Ms Ashwood has seen toy trends come and go but said most customers still bought classic toys, such as marbles and baby rattles, and the market “had not changed too much”.
Ms Ashwood said the most popular toy she sold were Teletubbies, the characters in the BBC children’s television series, and people queued all the way out onto Gentleman’s Walk to buy one.
She also said a Buzz Lightyear figurine, from the Pixar film Toy Story, was in such demand it never hit the shelves due to the sheer number of pre-orders.
Ms Ashwood said: “When I started Lego was coming into its own, as well as Cindy and Barbie. Initially, we only had a tiny space to sell them but it soon grew to an entire section.
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“Farm animal and tractors figurines were also popular when I started. Other than what I have mentioned, I also remember people desperately wanting to buy Beanie Babies and soft toys are still my favourite toy.”
“Toys and what people buy hasn’t really changed that much although everything is more electronic now. Even baby’s toys these days have lights and music.”
When asked about the most amusing memory of the store, Ms Ashwood said: “Langleys used to be where Marmalades is now and before that it was an optician.
“We once had a gentleman coming in when it was Langleys and asked for his opticians appointment - despite hundreds of toys on show.”
She said the secret to staying in a job for so long was children because “they keep you young” and her colleagues, who were like a “family”.
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